Skip to comments.Freight rail investment could free passenger congestion
Posted on 03/04/2010 5:41:19 AM PST by Willie Green
On rail lines, freight trains have priority over passenger service, which frequently causes delays for Amtrak customers.
Freight also appears to have the upper hand when it comes to money for improving service and infrastructure. Recent federal grant awards to Western Pennsylvania have included $35 million for improvements for cargo-hauling trains and just $750,000 for those that move people.
But people stand to benefit from the freight investment because it will mean fewer trucks on congested highways, less pollution and lower road maintenance costs, railroad officials told a state House committee on Wednesday.
The money will be used to clear obstacles that prevent heavier and taller "double-stack" freight trains from using the corridor. Those projects including lowering tracks, raising bridges and carving more height clearance into tunnels.
By 2020, highways in the state will be severely over their capacity, while expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled for completion in 2014, will boost cargo hauling to and from the East Coast, said Randy Cheetham, regional vice president for CSX Corp
(Excerpt) Read more at post-gazette.com ...
My issue with this is a lack of coherence, train usage?
But the neither fish nor fowl nature of the upgrades leaves me wondering if they know what they are doing.
ping, this is how they will go after truckers
LOL sounds like the only stacking they’re doing is with costs.
Good, I have been wondering why freight rail didn’t make a lot more sense as a stimulus investment.
Unlike people, freight is actually willing to travel by train.
Over in Portland, OR; TRIMET inaugurated their “Westside Express Service” or WES last year between Wilsonville and Portland with a couple of special passenger trains that utilize the main freight rails. It has had nothing but problems and complaints.
The very first time the train ran a morning run, people along the track raised holy hell about the train’s horn that had to be sounded at every single crossing. Nobody bothered to do a noise survey beforehand, and the noise at 4:30 AM when the first train comes through is loud enough to be dangerous to your hearing. They are still working noise issues.
One of the trains broke down in the middle of the mainline recently, and had to be pushed onto a siding, and all the passengers transferred to buses.
And, last week TRIMET announced big service cuts to the system because nobody is riding the damned thing, certainly nowhere near enough to justify even one train, but TRIMET has to save some face, ya know...
The Oregonian describes TRIMET as a Health Benefits Provider who also happens to own some buses and trains. That’s all you need to know about the state of Public Transportation out here, and it is all heavily subsidized by Business taxes that have been extracted from the local economy here for going on forty years.
I love to ride the train (I don’t fly, so it’s a lot better than a long drive). However, on long trips you are ALWAYS delayed by freight trains, so people can’t use trains for trips where they have to get somewhere on a schedule. That has to factor in to lack of passenger train passengers.
I don’t have a good answer, since I don’t really want tax dollars going to subsidize something just because it’s good for me. However, I would love a better passenger train system. For instance, as far as I know, unless they did it very recently, they never reopened the southern route (FL to TX) after Katrina, which is a shame since I live in south FL and my whole family lives in TX and I would take the train to visit them often if I didn’t have to go thru DC or Chicago to do it.
Over long distances freight by rail is pretty efficient but they’ll still need plenty of truck drivers for runs of a few hundred miles.
The benefit of double stacking trains to reduce congestion is minimal at best and combined with the astronomical cost of restructuring the whole rail system for it is laughable.
Countless passenger rail commuters disagree with you at least twice every work day.
I think the opposite is true. Most railroads are dedicating alot of their budgets to makIng these improvements for double stack trains. With height restrictions eliminated, stack trains can literally haul twice as much cargo in one trip than before..
Norfolk Southern is doing this on the Pokey in WV and the Crescent corridor on the East Coast...
The changes to the height restrictions also mean that other types of freight can also take advantage of the new routes. There are more and more “overheight” box cars on the rails now too, and those also need the increased clearance that the doublestack container carriages do. However, all this means nothing if no one is shipping freight, and there are still miles of empty cars sitting on sidings out in the middle of nowhere waiting for the economy to pick up again.
Why do you think lefty Warren Buffet bought the BNSF railroad? He basically said in this years report that he’s teaming up with Obama to get taxpayers to pick up his business costs, and shut down truckers. ( for the children, and daisies of course. )
Willie Green loves corporatism.
The freight train companies bought the railroad, and maintain it. Amtrak just rents use, and costs the freight lines. They just do it because of the political muscle that all the retired Democrat politicians ( like Michael Dukakis ) that get no show jobs in the Amtrack bureaucracy. Something Willie is very supportive of.
The growth of double-stack intermodal trains has been one of the greatest economic developments this country has seen in the last few decades. The "congestion reduction" benefits are meaningless. The biggest impact is the reduction of shipping costs over long distances.
Two double-stack projects in particular -- the Pennsylvania Clearance Route (1990s) and Heartland Corridor (ongoing) initiatives -- have enhanced Midwestern cities like Columbus and Chicago as major warehousing and distribution hubs . . . simply by providing double-stack rail access to the ports of New York and Norfolk.
Lots of talk about big cities but I still fail to see any advantage for flyover country.
Stepping back from a retail store shelf and seeing what goes on behind the scenes to get those products there for you is quite a remarkable learning experience. I think every American high school student should be required to take a course in basic economics that includes a supply chain and logistics component.
Yeah sure whatever.
Thanks for the well-reasoned, articulate answer. LOL.
actually this makes a lot more sense than building a Maglev to Greensburg that nobody will ever ride
If its such a damned fine business decision why should we be forced to pay for it? The government shough just finish taking over business and be done with it.
It's not much different than the rationale for having the U.S. government pay for the cost of laying rails all over the country, or building the interstate highway system.